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Guinea Woman: New and Selected Poems
ISBN: 978 1 857544 86 2
Categories: 20th Century, 21st Century, Black and Asian, Caribbean, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: October 2000
216 x 130 x 8 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
My mother loved my father
I write this as an absolute
in this my thirtieth year
the year to discard absolutes
he appeared, her fate disguised,
as a sunday player in a cricket match,
he had ridden from a country
one hundred miles south of hers.
She tells me he dressed the part,
visiting dandy, maroon blazer,
cream serge pants, seam like razor
and the beret and the two-tone shoes.
My father stopped to speak to her sister,
till he looked and saw her by the oleander,
sure in the kingdom of my blue-eyed grandmother.
He never played the cricket match that day.
He wooed her with words and he won her.
He had nothing but words to woo her,
on a visit to distant Kingston he wrote,
'I stood on the corner of King Street and looked,
and not one woman in that town was lovely as you.'
My mother was a child of the petite bourgeoisie
studying to be a teacher, she oiled her hands
to hold pens.
My father barely knew his father, his mother died young,
he was a boy who grew with his granny.
My mother's trousseau came by steamer through the snows of Montreal
where her sisters Albertha of the cheekbones and the
perennial Rose, combed Jewlit backstreets with French-
turned names for Doris's wedding things.
Such a wedding Harvey River, Hanover, had never seen.
Who anywhere had seen a veil fifteen chantilly yards long?
and a crepe de chine dress with inlets of silk godettes
and a neck-line clasped with jeweled pins?
And on her wedding day she wept. For it was a brazen bride in those days who smiled,
and her bouquet looked for all the world like a sheaf of wheat
against the unknown of her belly,
a sheaf of wheat backed by maidenhair fern, representing Harvey River
her face washed by something other than river water.
My father made on assertive move, he took the imported cherub down
from the heights of the cake and dropped it in the soft territory
between her breasts... and she cried.
from 'For My Mother (May I Inherit Half Her Strength)'
The poetry of Lorna Goodison, Derek Walcott says, 'is a rooted, organic delight, true in its intonations to the Jamaican language she loves, fresh in its wit and pain and in the high, spiritual gossip of its leaves.'
The poet is endowed with all the resources of her two traditions: the African-Caribbean and the European. Her poems are politically illuminating because of the ways in which she celebrates this dual inheritance. Each subject and theme can choose an appropriate idiom. Rooted though the poems may be in certain elected landscapes, the poet is a free agent and finds her inflections in the interplay between languages and occasions.
Goodison is a black Jamaican woman, but none of those sobriquets adequately defines the rare freedoms that her verse earns from speech and from literature. There is an urgency about her subjects and themes – whether landscape, history or personal experience – which is responsible for the music of her verse.
The Road of the Dread
Garden of the Women Once Fallen
Songs for My son
The Mulatta as Penelope
'Mine, O Thou Lord of Life...'
Keith Jarrett - Rainmaker
Invoke Mercy Extraordinary for Angels Fallen
Lullaby for Jean Rhys
I Am Becoming My Mother
For My Mother (May I Inherit Half her Strength)
Letters to the Egyptian
'I Shall Light a Candle of Understanding...'
This Is a Hymn
Heartease New England 1987
The Woman Speaks to the Man Who Has Employed Her Son
Recommendation for Amber
On Becoming a Tiger
Mother the Great Stones Got to Move
Missing the Mountains
October in the Kingdom of the Poor
Bun Down Cross Roads
In City Gardens Grow No Roses as We Know Them
Songs of the Fruits and Sweets of Childhood
Outside the Gates
Name Change: Morant Bay Uprising
From the Book of Local Miracles, Largely Unrecorded
Some Things You Do Not Know about Me
In the Mountains of the Moon, Uganda
Morning, Morning Angel Mine
Bulls Bay, Lucea
To Us, All Flowers Are Roses
After the Green Fown of My Mother Gone Down
My Mother's Sea Chanty
The Domestic Science of Sunday Dinner
Turn Thanks to Miss Mirry
Turn Thanks to Grandmother Hannah
Love Song for Great-Grandmother Leanna
Aunt Rose's Honey Advice
Signals from the Simple Life
This Is My Father's Country
The Sleeping Zemis
Africa on the Mind Today
The Mango of Poetry
To Mr William Wordsworth, Distributor of Stamps...
Antoinette Cosway Explains
The Gypsy in the Russian Tea Room
Vincent and the Orient
Max Ernst Painting
The Jerboa of John Dunkley
Hungry Belly Kill Daley
To Become Green Again and Young
God a Me
Sometimes on a Day Such as This
A Bed of Mind
I Know I Never Lose You
Angel of Dreamers
A Quartet of Daffodils
Bringing the Wild Woman Indoors
The Revival Song of the Wild Woman
Close to You Know
Was it Legba She Met Outside the Coronation Market?
I Am Weary of Winters Mother
Spending the Gold of Lovers
About the Tamarind
For Love of Marpessa Dawn
Outwaiting the Crazy Wolf Moon
Awards won by Lorna Goodison Winner, 2018 Windham-Campbell Literature Prize for Poetry
Praise for Lorna Goodison 'A Caribbean and international great.'
Jeremy Poynting, Managing Editor of Peepal Tree Press, Guardian Best Books of 2017
'The collected works of the recently appointed Jamaican poet laureate is an endlessly moving and rewarding...Four decades of insight and honesty are gathered in some 600 pages of rich, often fabular verse' Financial Times on Collected Poems
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